Dead Silence – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

One of the funniest stories my friend Scott Mendelson and I have is when we snuck into a test screening of James Wan’s Dead Silence back in (I’m guessing) 2006. For those curious, the “Alternate Opening” and “Alternate Ending” on the bonus features were in the version we saw and the title was simply Silence. Working in the entertainment industry, Scott and I weren’t supposed to be allowed into those things, and if caught would be blacklisted from all test screenings around town. Long story short, I was almost caught because of how I answered a question with an organizer while in line and it led to her introducing me to Leigh Whannell before the film started. Well, I hadn’t seen the film since that screening – UNTIL NOW. Scream Factory is debuting the film on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on March 28th and I get to review it. It features new interviews with Wan and Whannell as well as the guy who mad the dumies for the movie. You can order yourself a copy by using the paid Amazon Associates link at the end of the review.


From James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the horror masters behind Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious, comes a new thriller of relentless terror! Ever since Mary Shaw was hunted down and killed, the small town of Ravens Fair has been haunted by horrific deathts. When a local’s wife is brutally murdered, he returns home to unravel the terrifying legend of Mary Shaw and the reason why when you see her, you should never, ever scream.

Next to Death Sentence, perhaps the most overlooked film in the James Wan catalog is his sophomore effort, Dead Silence. Following the massive success of Saw was going to be tough, and I’m not sure critics and audiences were really prepared for what he was going to deliver here. Going from the grit and grime of a next generation Seven film to a throwback to the lavish gothic British horrors akin to a Hammer Films production feels almost like it could come from a different creator entirely. But no, same director and same writer.

The film holds to a similar smaller scale story with a limited number of character involved in the plot. Its has a central mystery with a silly reveal that somehow works. What holds up the strongest with the film is the technical “how” it is told. Wan makes a significant leap from Saw to Dead Silence. Granted, there’s more money involved, but still, he knows what he’s doing. His camera is able to leer, jolt, move, play, find interesting angle and make some terrific movements. His trademarks we’d find in his films more or less feel like they actually start here with this film and not the former. Wan clearly displays a vision and a voice here with this one and you can honestly tell he’s the guy who made it if you’ve seen any Insidious, Conjuring, Malignant or even Furious 7 or Aquaman.

Perhaps the weaker area of the film are the performers. They’re not bad, but merely serviceable. Nobody major really grabs you. This one pulls you in by the visuals and sound design. There are strong supporting turns by the likes of Donnie Wahlberg and Laura Regan. Unfortunately, Regan is bumped off in the first act and Wahlberg only shows up in spots. Wahlberg is the scene stealer in this and he’s quite funny. I personally remember recommending to add more of him on my test screen scorecard back in the day.

While it may have disappointed upon release, I’m pretty certain Dead Silence holds up today for a fresh viewing or revisit. There’s a really strong vision on display with a decent story that works well enough. Its not perfect, nor a hidden masterpiece, just a well made, rock solid horror movie. Wan make something very much his own and not some piecemeal thing or dull horror movie that doesn’t know how to use the camera.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are from the standard Blu-ray, not from the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Dead Silence debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray features a ew 2023 4K Master for the theatrical version only.  And boy does this one look really pretty. Its got a distinct look and color palette to it. Its really crisp and sharp with some really vivid details and texture that come through.

Depth:  Depth of field looks really luscious here and quite big with some grander looking scale for smaller level film. Motion is smooth and natural with no issues from distortions like blur or jitter caused by rapid action or character movement.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural. This a very dark movie with lots of nighttime scenes, dark houses and heavily shadowed but this hold it expertly. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors on this one really have blue slant to them. However, combined with the blacks, there is some strong contrast that really allows reds to pop out. Especially on the car driven by Ryan Kawnten. The HDR really pops with candlelight, fire, displays, car lights and the opening credit text.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a bit colder considering the blue palette and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures are clear as day with make-up brush strokes, wrinkles, freckles, dried blood coming through clearly. Gore prosthetics hold up under 4K scrutiny breezily.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Dynamics: This is a loud and terrific 5.1 track that keeps you on your toes and engages all throughout the movie. This track plays with sound around the room with a balanced mix with good layering and depth. It plays with volumes and speaker placement for the ultimate impact.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer really hits good on the soundscape here as well as punches in spots of crashing, smashing and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is spooky mix that crushes it in terms of planting treats around the room with the speakers. Sound travel is fun and effective (The scene where the dummies all turn their heads is awesome). Great ambiance built in any given room and the “Silence” scenes are fantastically imagined.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Dead Silence – Collector’s Edition is a 2-Disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray edition. The Unrated cut is only found on the standard Blu-ray edition as are the bonus features.

Masters of Puppets (HD, 15:45) – An interview with director James Wan. He starts with some of his personal inspirations (Raimi, Romero, Corman, etc) then goes into meeting Leigh Whannell in film school – “We’re really just Abbott & Costello. After sort of brushing his career leading up tot he movie, he notes his goal with Dead Silence was to make a modern Hammer Horror film.

Dead Assignment (HD, 12:26) – An interview with writer Leigh Whannell. He adds more to the film school stuff saying they were stuck in a school full of prestige film people and he and Wan met because they were genre nuts behind closed doors. During this we get to see behind the scenes pictures from the shooting of their 2002 short film called Negative. He mentions that he and Wan grew up loving directors that really moved the camera with energy (Argento, Raimi). “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for James. We do this together.” He’s happy there has been a cult around Dead Silence, and gives his original iteration of it being a period piece in Vaudevillian times.

No Children, Only Dolls (HD, 12:15) – An interview with ventriloquist dummy creator Tim Selberg. He starts with what he was into and how he landed the gig. Selberg has props on hand and nearby and goes over details of his creations/characters and how they work and his inspirations. This is pretty nifty as we see sketches, schematics and “in progress” pics of the creations.

Alternate Opening (SD, 1:37)

Alternate Ending (SD, 3:42)

Deleted Scenes (SD, 3:50)

The Making of Dead Silence (SD, 11:55)

Mary Shaw’s Secrets (SD, 6:41)

Evolution of a Visual FX (SD, 3:59)

Trailer (HD, 2:15)


Dead Silence certainly is one of the more overlooked horror films of the 00s and killer sophomore outing from Wan in terms of his directorial prowess. Scream Factory’s 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray of the film has a boffo presentation with excellent video and audio. The old extras are here and the new interviews are great. A definite upgrade and pickup for horror fans.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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